Why should I reduce, reuse and recycle?

Colourful vintage furniture stacked up at the front of a vintage shop

There are lots of good reasons to reduce, reuse and recycle. Everything we use has to come from somewhere and must go somewhere once we’re finished with it.

And the environmental cost of an item isn't just a reflection of what's needed to make it. It also reflects the energy used and greenhouse gas emissions created in the item's production and the impact it will have when we use it and throw it away. This cost is felt both in Scotland and around the world. 

Our demand for new products has a huge impact on Scotland’s carbon footprint – we can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and get to our net zero target by making sustainable choices and keeping existing materials and resources in circulation for longer. 


Make a difference

On average each household in Scotland generates just under a tonne of waste every year, but so much of it could be reduced, reused or recycled to help create a net zero nation. Net zero is when the amount of greenhouse gas emissions we put into the atmosphere and the amount we’re able to take out will add up to zero. The first thing we can do is change our actions to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the first place, for example, by reducing our demand for new products to help reduce the emissions that go into creating them. 

We can also make a huge difference by taking steps to reduce food waste. By reducing the amount of food waste we generate in the first place, the greenhouse gas emissions that would have went into the production, processing, transportation and cooking of food won’t be created. 

As waste breaks down in landfill it releases gases that play a part in climate change. Food waste, for example, decays when it is sent to landfill instead of being recycled and this releases the destructive greenhouse methane into the air. This is much more harmful to the planet than carbon dioxide. And some waste, like certain kinds of plastic, never disappears.

A wooden crate of vegetables

By making smart decisions about what we buy and how we get the most out of our purchases, we can work together to reduce the amount of waste Scotland produces, reduce our emissions and get to net zero.

Items that break or fall apart can often be fixed to prolong their life. We can also reuse items for the same or a different purpose, giving many of the things that would otherwise be thrown away a second life.

And when it is finally time to throw something away, recycling makes sure that the materials used to make it are used again.

Reasons to reduce, reuse and recycle

  • Energy and resources are wasted whenever an item goes to landfill
  • Raw materials are a limited resource – we might not always be able to replace what we throw away
  • Less landfill means less pollution – and a cleaner, greener Scotland
  • Waste costs – for example, Scotland’s avoidable food waste alone runs to more than £1 billion a year.
Milk and juice cartons that have been used to make toy cars and buildings
A hand putting a glass container into a recycling bin

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

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